4 Ways Leaders Create Capacity

Capacity: the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something.

Great leaders know the more capacity the organization has the more potential it has to accomplish its mission. When the organization begins to exceed its capacity for too long things eventually stall. If you want to spur growth you have to increase capacity.

Therefore, one of the best ways a leader can impact an organization is to create capacity so the organization and its people can grow.

Here are 4 ways a leader can create capacity:

Paint a void

Allow others to see what could be accomplished. Leaders help people see potential – in themselves and the future – they may not otherwise see. This can be accomplished through vision casting and question asking. It may be helping people dream bigger dreams of what could be next in their own life or for the organization. It could be through training or development. Extra capacity energizes people to find new and adventuresome ways of achieving them.

Empower people

When you give people the tools, resources and power to accomplish the task and you’ve often created new capacity. Many times people feel they’ve done all they can with what they have. Provide them with new tools – maybe new ideas — assure them they can’t fail if they are doing their best. Continue to support them as needed. Then get out of their way.

Release ownership

Let go of your attempt to control an outcome so others can lead. Many people hold back waiting for the leader to take initiative or give his or her blessing. The more power and ownership you release the more others will embrace. The more initiative they will take of their own.

Lead people not tasks

If you are always the doer and never the enabler then you are not a leader. More than likely you are simply an obstacle to what the team could accomplish if you got out of the way. Many leaders don’t see this in themselves. Frequently ask yourself: Am I leading or am I in the way? And, if you’re brave enough — ask others to evaluate you – even anonymously.

When the leader creates capacity the organization and the people in the organization increase their capacity – and things can grow.

4 Free Ways to Grow the People You Lead

There are some common questions I hear from leaders. In fact, they may be some of the most important questions leaders can ask. These questions are the essence of who the leader is and what leaders are to do.

Questions such as:

How do we create environments where leaders can grow? What are some common elements necessary in every organization where leaders are growing? Are there ways to stimulate growth in a leader any organization (or church) – regardless of size or budget – can implement?

Have you ever asked such questions?

Here are 4 free ways to grow people:

Knowledge

It has been said knowledge is power. That’s certainly true when it comes to leadership. It’s beeen interesting to watch over the years how some I would not say are the smartest or even best leaders have had power because they had more information.

To help people on our team grow, I know I must share whatever I know. I must communicate fluently. I also need to ask questions and allow people the freedom to ask me questions. I have to encourage our team to be sharing information with others and continually be seeking input from people outside our organization.

Leaders who stir knowledge with in their organization will see people grow. 

Modeling

Character isn’t taught, but it can certainly be modeled. Any leader desiring to grow high character leaders must display the character they wish to develop. I realize my character will greatly determine the quality of leaders we attract. And, I can’t grow leaders (with character) without displaying a high character personally.

I know I can impact growth in people on our team if I display a character worth following. The way I live my life impacts the quality of the life of people trying to follow my leadership.

Opportunity

Most aspiring leaders are waiting for a break. They are seeking an opportunity. They are screaming “Give me a chance”.

I know if I want to grow people I must create opportunities for them to experiment by leading other people. And, the more opportunities I create the more leaders our team can grow.

Experience

It is in the tension of being stretched where we learn most. Walking by faith – leading into the unknown – always teaches me more than I could learn in a “safe place”.

To grow leaders we must give others ample chances to live firsthand in the stress of leadership. I realize one of my roles in the church is releasing my right to control an outcome to provide people with their own experience as a leader – to feel ownership and responsibility for an outcome. 

Give those four a chance and watch the people around you grow.

4 Ways to Process The Emotions of Betrayal as a Leader

I was reading a Bible passage the other day and, as I read, I had the weirdest emotional response to the text. I realize Scripture is supposed to impact us this way – if we allow it to – but, suddenly I was feeling a stirring in my stomach. I became slightly nervous. It was a brief encounter, but I quickly realized I was being reminded of a few very painful experiences in my own leadership and life.

I was recalling the emotions of betrayal.

To understand the passage, it helps to be able to count to twelve. (Or at least eleven.)

Here’s the passage:

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.Acts 1:13

Do you see what jumped out at me?

Count them. There are eleven names. Eleven. Not twelve.

One name is missing. One person was no longer in the group. And, I remembered why.

For three years there were twelve. They had been Jesus’ disciples. His closest companions. His trusted friends. Jesus had invested time, energy and life into them. Now there were eleven. One was missing.

The betrayer.

If you don’t know the story, another named Judas betrayed Jesus. For a hefty sum of money he handed Jesus to the authorities where He was arrested, beaten and crucified. Of course, it was used for a divine purpose, but the fact is one of the disciples betrayed the others and Jesus.

I don’t think I ever considered this before, but what were the emotions of betrayal for the remaining disciples? Did they miss their friend? In spite of his betrayal, he was a close companion on a mission. A team member. There must have been some attachment. Were there moments of bitterness, anger, or rage? Were they sad? Was there one in particular who got hurt most? He was closest to the betrayer, perhaps, (I don’t know. But, I do know people and team dynamics so it prompts me to ask the questions.)

As I reflected on their experience, I couldn’t help remembering some of my own times of betrayal. There have been a few significant, very painful times in leadership (and life) where I was severely disappointed by people I trusted most.

But, that was my experience reading the text that morning and this post is really about you.

Have you ever experienced the emotions of betrayal?

We don’t talk about it much in leadership or ministry, but maybe we should. Those emotions are real. They are heavy. And, they are common.

Have you been hurt by your own betrayer? You trusted him or her. You may have even called them friend. They let you down. Disappointed you. Betrayed you.

Anyone who has served in any leadership position has experienced betrayal at some level. It could have been the gossip started by a supposed friend or a pointed and calculated stab in the back. Either way it hurts.

Learning to deal with, process, and mature through betrayal may be one of the more important leadership issues, yet we seldom deal with the issue.

How do you handle betrayal?

Here are a few quick suggestions:

Grieve

Give yourself time to process. Be honest about the pain. Don’t pretend it didn’t matter. It does. You were injured by someone you trusted – maybe someone you love.

Forgive

As much as it hurts, refusing to forgive or holding a grudge will hurt you more than the betrayer. (And, if you are a believer you have no option. It’s a command of God.) Embrace and extend grace. Let it go! If there are realistic consequences you can let those occur, but in your heart let it go. Forgiveness is a choice not dependent on the other person’s response. It is the most freeing decision you can make. It may take time to do this, but the longer you delay the more you are still held captive by the betrayal.

Analyze

It is good at a time of betrayal to consider what went wrong. Was it an error in judgement? Do you need stricter guidelines for yourself or those you lead? Would it have happened regardless? You can’t script morality and shouldn’t attempt to, but you should use this as a chance for a healthy review of the parameters in which the betrayal occurred.

Continue

You can’t allow a betrayal to distract you from the vision you have been called to complete. But, equally important, don’t allow this time to build up walls where you never trust again or unnecessary structure which burdens the rest of the team. There will always be betrayers as long as there are people. Jesus had them. They show up unexpectedly at times. And, if you read on in Acts, they replaced the twelfth person again. They moved forward in spite of betrayal. Eventually you will have to take a risk on people again. It’s the only way to lead in a healthy way.

Betrayers will come. The way we deal with them often determines the future quality of our leadership.

7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team

One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders.

I previously posted reasons leaders tend to leave an organization. (Read that post HERE.) The goal then is to find ways to keep a leader energized to stay with the team – so I thought a companion post was appropriate.

I’m writing from the perspective of all organizations, but keeping leaders should certainly be a high priority in the church.

I never want to stop someone from pursuing a better opportunity, but I don’t want to send them away because I didn’t help them stay.

The reality is leaders get restless if they are forced to sit still for long. Good managers are comfortable maintaining progress, but a leader needs to be leading change. In fact, leaders even like a little chaos. Show a real leader a problem ready to be solved and they are energized.

Here are a few suggestions to encourage leaders to stay:

Give them a new challenge.

Let them tackle something you’ve never been able to accomplish. (Even tell them you’re not certain it can be done.) Leaders love to do what others said couldn’t be done. Or what no one has figured out yet how to do. Let the leader be a precursor to what’s next for the organization. Let them experiment somewhere you’ve wanted to go, but haven’t tried. They may discover the next big thing for the organization.

Allow them to explore a specific area of interest to them.

Leaders are attracted to environments where they can explore – especially in areas where they have a personal interest or where they want to develop. This may even be outside their direct job description. Give them permission to do something new.

Invest in them.

Mentor them personally. This is huge for younger leaders. They crave it, but don’t always know how to ask for it. This is not micromanaging. This is helping them learn valuable insight from your experience and exposing them to other good leaders.

Give them more creative time to dream.

This is a stretch for some structures, but it’s needed to retain leaders. It doesn’t mean people aren’t held accountable, but I prefer to do so with goals and objectives rather than with a time clock. You might keep someone from feeling stifled if you give them more margin in how they spend their time.

Don’t burden them with your fears.

I’ve seen this so many times when a senior leader gives other leaders in the organization more responsibility. It makes the leader nervous, so they revert to controlling and micromanagement. They don’t give them a chance to prove themselves. They try to tell them how to do things. Fear is what is discerned by others. And, it doesn’t communicate you trust them. It doesn’t mean you are absent from the process. It is hard to release responsibility to someone unproven, but you must stifle your fears and let them learn to lead. Stay close enough to jump in when requested or when it is absolutely required.

Allow him or her to help you lead/dream/plan for the organization.

Include them in discussions and brainstorming in which they normally would not be included. The more they feel included the more loyal they will be.

Reward them.

If they are doing well – let them know it. Praise them privately and publicly and compensate them fairly. What is celebrated gets repeated.

Keeping a leader on your team will be at challenge for you as a leader. You will have to stretch yourself to stretch them. But, it’s almost always worth it. As they grow, you grow, and the entire organization grows.

7 Reasons Leaders Tend to Quit Your Organization

If any organization expects to grow, they need to attract, develop and retain quality leaders.

Any argument with that statement? If so, you probably just like to argue. And, I get that too.

But, new growth always requires new leaders. Period.

Certainly the church needs good leaders.

One of the highest costs an organization has is replacing leaders, so ideally once a leader is hired, you’ll want to keep them. So it’s equally important to know how to keep them. And, to know why leaders tend to leave an organization, apart from finding a better opportunity.

I don’t want to stand in the way of a leader leaving to an opportunity I can’t match, but I don’t want to lose them because of something the organization did wrong.

Here are 7 reasons leaders tend to quit an organization:

They couldn’t live out their personal vision.

Leaders are internally driven. They have personal visions in addition to the vision of the organization. They need opportunity to explore, find their own way, and feel they are making their own personal contribution to overall success.

They were told no too many times.

Leaders have ideas they want to see implemented. If they get their hand slapped too many times they will be frustrated. And, not for long before they respond.

They felt unappreciated/never recognized for their abilities.

This goes for all team members, but certainly for leaders. People need to know what they are offering is valued. Leaders especially want to know their contribution is recognized and making a difference to improve the life of others – which is a primary motivation of good leaders.

They were given no voice.

Leaders want input into the direction of the organization. They want a seat at the table of authority.

They were left clueless as to the future of the organization.

Leaders need inside information so they feel ownership in the overall direction of the organization. They don’t like constant surprises or feeling they are always an outsider.

Their vision doesn’t match the vision of the organization.

This is best discovered before the leader joins the team, but when it is discovered a leader will be very uncomfortable. Something must change. And, it will. Trust me.

They were micromanaged.

Leaders don’t need managing as much as they need releasing. The more they are controlled the more they rebel.

You can allow leaders to work for the good of the organization or stifle them, discourage them and spend valuable time and effort consistently replacing them. If you want to keep leaders – let them lead!

12 Hard Things a Leader May Need to Say – And 5 Ways to Say Them

In any relationship, there comes a time where it’s necessary to say things, which are difficult to say, but needed to keep the relationship strong. And, to hopefully make it better. This is also true in a healthy team environment. All leaders have things they need to say, which are hard sometimes.

For me personally, this often involves having a challenging conversation with a team member – someone I love being on the team, but know they need correction in an area, which is affecting the team. These are always discussions I’d rather not have, but I know are necessary for the continued health of the relationship, the team, and the individual.

Over the years, I have had many of these issues which required “tough love” to address them. I began my business leadership experience in retail management. At certain times of the year there could be 100’s of associates on the sales floor. It provided ample opportunity for problems I had to address with individuals.

But, those opportunities have continued throughout my career in leadership. And, dealing with problems has included me having to say things such as:

  • You’re too controlling as a leader.
  • You can be perceived as a real jerk to people.
  • Your laziness is dragging down the team.
  • You have body odor.
  • You’re making making too many mistakes and don’t seem to be learning from them.
  • You are non-responsive to your team members or others. It’s slowing down progress and it’s unfair to everyone else.
  • Your personal life is impacting your work. How can I help?
  • You don’t know how to take constructive criticism.
  • You are too critical of new ideas.
  • You are moving too fast.
  • You are moving too slow.
  • You are uncooperative.

I should note – most of these have not been said with my current team – thankfully.

Through my years in leadership, however, I have had to say each one of these statements to someone I was supposed to be leading. And, there are probably many others you as a leader have either had to say, think you need to say, or chose not to say and, looking back, now wish you had. Those conversations, as awkward and uncomfortable as they are, always prove to be good for the team and the team member.

In full disclosure, there have been times when someone needed to have similar “tough love” conversations with me. They weren’t easy for me at the time, but those discussions always made me better as a person and leader.

If you have to have one of those conversations, I have learned some principles to make them more palatable.

Here are 5 suggestions to have hard conversations:

Handle the conversation as quickly as possible

If the problem is clear in your mind (and usually everyone else’s mind), and you’ve witnessed the problem long enough to know it’s a pattern, don’t delay long in addressing the issue. Now, timing is everything. You shouldn’t blast someone in public and you should look for the “best” time to talk with them privately. These aren’t usually the kind of things done by email or text. They are best done in person. But, the longer you wait the more awkward it will be and the person is left feeling more hurt because you did wait.

Be honest

This is not the time to shift blame, make excuses or dance around the issue. Be clear about the problem as you perceive it. Keep in mind there may be things you don’t understand, but be honest with what you think you do. Don’t leave the person wondering what the real problem is or what you are trying to say to them. 

Be kind and helpful

You may want to read my post 5 Ways to Rebuke a Friend. Although this post deals more with a subordinate than simply with a friend, the previous post suggestions may be helpful here also – especially if you are close to the person with whom you are having to say hard things. Your end goal should be to make the team member and the team better after the conversation. This also means you don’t simply correct a person. Use the “sandwich approach” when possible. Place the hard words in the midst of things which are good about the person and your continued commitment as a part of the team. And, if you’re past the point where you think you can move forward with them you probably have had or should have had other conversations about the problems you perceive prior to this one. 

Have a two-way conversation

You should be willing to listen as much as you speak. You may not have all the facts exactly right – or you may have – but give the person a chance to respond to the criticism you are addressing. This also means you should have a two-way conversation, and not a multiple-party conversation. (And, again, in person if at all possible. You can document it in writing if you need to, but these issues deserve a face-to-face conversation.) You should address the issue with the person you have a problem with, not with others on the team behind his or her back. If you need someone in the room with you for perception issues or as a witness, make sure they are committed to privacy.

Move forward after the conversation

The person being corrected should leave with the assurance you are moving forward, and, provided improvements are made, do not plan to hold the issue against them. It will be important they see you responding likewise in the days ahead by the way you interact with them. They shouldn’t continue to feel awkward around you – at least not by the way you respond to them. You can’t control their actions, but you can control yours. 

Know when enough is enough

You shouldn’t have to have these type conversations too frequently. Talk becomes cheap if there’s no backing to what’s agreed upon. If there seems to be no improvement over time, harder decisions or more intensive help may be needed. If you have done the other steps here, there is a time when tough love says “that’s enough – no more”. You are not doing your job as a leader if you continue to ignore the issues everyone else sees as critical to the health of a team.

One of the most difficult times for me is addressing issues like this with a team member I genuinely care about, but I know it’s one of my roles as a leader to address these most difficult issues. But, that’s what we do as leaders – hard things (with grace and truth). 

The Way I Respond as a Leader of Leaders

I often get asked about the difference between leading leaders and leading followers. It’s a great question. The question ultimately points to a paradigm of leading people.

I certainly know I want to attract and retain leaders on our team. I don’t want a bunch of people waiting for me to make a decision or who fail to take initiative. I ultimately want people who will lead me. 

I also realize I am not a perfect leader. I have so much room to personally grow as a leader. One thing I have discovered, however, is the difference in how I lead if I want to lead leaders. And, the difference is huge.

I could choose to be a boss – and simply require people to perform for pay. To lead leaders requires a different skill set. It challenges the way I lead. 

As a leader of leaders…

I say, “I don’t know, I’ll have to find out” a lot. I can’t have all the answers. I need to be leading people – encouraging them to lead – more than I’m instructing people.

I often “didn’t know about that” – whatever “that” is – until after a decision has been made. And, if I’m leading well you won’t hear me say anything negative about what I don’t know, because I support my team’s ability to make decisions.

I encourage learning from someone besides me. After all, I don’t have all the answers. Some days, without my team, I don’t have any.

I let people make mistakes. And, I’m glad they let me make some too. It’s one of the best ways we learn from life and each other.

I try to steer discussion more than have solutions. And, I find meetings become more productive. Work becomes more efficient.

I believe in dreams other than my own. People have opinions and ideas. The best ones aren’t always mine.

I say “we” more than I say “me”. (Except in this post) A team is more powerful than an individual effort.

I strive to empower more than I control. Leadership stalls when we try to determine the outcome. It thrives when we learn and practice good delegation.

I’m not afraid of being challenged by those on our team. I’m not saying it “feels good” to be critiqued, but I know it’s a part of making us better.

I seldom script the way to achieve the vision. In fact, I never script it alone. I try to always include those who have to implement the plan into the creation of the plan. And, by experience, it seems to be a more effective way to do things.

Do you lead leaders? What would you add?

5 Ways Ministry Leaders Start the Journey to Failure

One of the hardest things I do in ministry is interact with those who are no longer in ministry, but wish they were. They’ve been derailed. They messed up and either they got caught or the guilt got the best of them and they confessed.

In recent years, I’ve had numerous ministry friends who lost their ministry due to moral failure, poor leadership, or simply burnout.

You should know I’m huge proponent for applying grace. I do not believe failure has to define a person indefinitely. The reality is, however, we lose good, effective ministry leaders because they begin to make dumb mistakes. It breaks my heart. If there were any way to stop it – or minimize it – I would certainly try to do so.

That is the point of this post.

Watching this process over the years there appear to be some common reasons failure occurs. It doesn’t start at the failure. It starts months – and, perhaps years – prior. My hope is if we expose some of them we can catch a few people before it is too late.

So, let me ask, do any of these apply to you?

Here are the 5 ways leaders start to fail:

Thinking it couldn’t happen to me.

I have heard this so many times. The leader thinks they are fool proof. They don’t believe the statistics include them. They don’t need the accountability of others. Their marriage is secure. The things which tempt others don’t tempt them. 

Can I be a word of caution? It can. It can. It can. Yes, even to you! Should I remind you the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion?
Refusing to listen to others.

In my experience, God will attempt to rescue those in jeopardy. Refusing to listen to oth re often dismisses the voice of God. When a leader closes his or herself from the counsel of others they are essentially putting out a welcome mat for temptation to overtake them. 

Do you need to heed wise counsel? 

Overestimating personal value.

Pride goes before the fall. Oh, how true this warning from Scripture has been proven to me over the years. Whenever I think too highly of myself I set myself up for failure. Those who seek their own applause get phony claps.

Be honest, do you see yourself as better, smarter, or more valuable than those you lead? Do you think you’re irreplaceable? 

Underestimating the value of others.

Prior to a fall leaders often become guarded in what they release to others. They are over-protective. They attempt to control outcomes. They dismiss the opinions of people on their team. 

Do you realize the worth of a team? Do you understand the value other people bring to the table? Do you solicit advice? 

You’re on a slow fade.

Failure never starts at the bottom or really even experiences a free fall. It’s a gradual decline over time. It’s allowing temptation to become” little” sin and a bunch of “little” sins to become a “big” sin. 

Have you begun to make excuses for some of your behaviors? Have you drifted from some of your normal healthy disciplines? When you compare your life today to even a year ago – do you  see a slow fade occurring?

Those are a few signs I’ve seen of a coming failure. 

Do you need the warning?

I can also remind you – You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. No temptation has seized you except what’s common to man. When tempted, God provides a way out. 

Perhaps this post is one way God will attempt to get your attention. 

I’m hopeful you’ll find a safe place to get help if needed. It would be better to make yourself vulnerable than to allow yourself to be a statistic. 

Stop Seeing the Bible as a Reference Book

A guest post by Chandler Vannoy

Dictionary.

Thesaurus.

Encyclopedia.

We all know what these are. These are all reference books, and a reference book is only used when you need to use it as a source to make a point. The definition reads, “a book intended to be consulted for information on specific matters rather than read from beginning to end.“It’s a source that we pull up when we need to back up a point or further clarify what we are trying to say.

And this is exactly how many of us treat the Bible, simply as a reference book.

We see it as a resource in our pocket to be searched when we are trying to win an argument. As a book of inspiration to post on social media. Or as a book we consult on specific matters but have never thought about reading beginning to end. And this is a dangerous habit for us to fall into.

Why? Because we need to see the Bible not as a book to be referenced, but as a book to be lived, and then let our life be saturated by it. It should be the source of life for us. Not a source that we footnote or cite to make a point.

Honestly answer this question: how do you mainly interact with the Bible?

Do you pull a verse here and there to tweet or Instagram?

Do you Google for a verse every now and then to back you up in an argument?

Or do you daily read it to soak it up and let it transform the way you live?

I promise, this is not a gotcha type of question. I only ask this question to you, because I recently asked the same question to myself. And when I answered it, it made me realize that I had not made the Word of God a big enough of a priority in my life.

It is so easy in our “information at our fingertips” lifestyle to go about our day and simply see the Bible as a reference book that supplements our lives when it is convenient to us or we have a question to be answered. And when we do this, we are missing out on the true riches of Scripture. As Matt Chandler would, “We are adults playing around in the kiddie pool of faith.”

After being convicted of this myself, I found a few ways to get past this type of thinking:

1. Simply, read the Bible daily.

The greatest way to get out of the habit of seeing the Bible as a reference book is to make a daily habit of reading, studying, and applying it to your life. This will cause Scripture to be in your mind and vocabulary constantly rather than just as a reference. It will begin to flood your mind throughout the day, so you are thinking about it not just when you need to defend something, but in every decision that you make.

2. Before you share a verse, read the whole chapter for context.

Sadly, often when we share Bible on Instagram or Twitter, we morph Scripture to fit into our life rather than fitting our life into Scripture. Because of this, we’ll take verses out of context and post them as inspiration even if that is not what the original author intended.

One example is Jeremiah 29:11, you know, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We love to post this one in hard times, like right after a break up or unexpected job change, but we end up using a verse as inspiration that the author was writing to show God’s judgment to His people.

3. Create a habit of memorizing Scripture

Memorizing Scripture is normally thought of as a super-spiritual habit. But it should be seen as essential for all believers. Think about this, we can memorize lyrics to a song, but we don’t have the capacity to memorize God’s Word? Yeah right. It’s just that we don’t focus on it, so we allow our minds to be filled more with culture’s influence than the Spirit’s influence. But when we memorize Scripture, we are keeping a reference book of the Bible in our mind. When we draw from it, we aren’t looking it up, but rather we are drawing it out from a past reading or devotion.

What are some ways you have made Scripture more of a priority in your life?

Chandler Vannoy is the Brand Manager for LifeWay Leadership. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and is now pursuing his Masters of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He loves the NBA, C.S Lewis, and good coffee. Connect with him on Twitter: @chandlervannoy.

The 10 Commandments of Social Media

A guest post from my son, Jeremy Chandler

This is a guest post from my son, Jeremy Chandler. Currently, Jeremy serves as a Marketing Manager at Pursuant, a fundraising agency serving the nation’s leading nonprofits, faith-based ministries, and churches. He and his wife Mary live in Nashville, TN. If you’re in the area, he jumps at any opportunity to connect with people over coffee.

Social media provides churches with an incredible opportunity to reach more people and create deeper, more meaningful connections with people in the pew. But, when you combine the various ways churches can use it and challenges around what to post, many churches are still either hesitant to use social media or are using it poorly and not seeing any positive results.

So how do you use social media effectively for ministry? Based on the way churches are effectively using social media today, here are 10 “commandments” to help guide your strategy.

The 10 Commandments of Social Media

1. Be Human

We all agree that the Church is made up of people, not buildings. However, one of the temptations when using social media for ministry is to create a persona around your ministry rather than people. Instead of simply using social media as a platform to share what your church is doing, find ways to humanize your ministry.

2. Be Positive

Take a scroll through your newsfeed and count how many posts are rooted in anger, pessimism, arrogance, or other negative stances. One of the greatest opportunities your church has when it comes to social media is to be a light in a place that’s becoming increasingly dark. Every time you post something consider, “Is this adding value and positivity to the people we’re trying to reach?”

3. Be Remarkable

Creating compelling, visual images or video content is an increasingly important trend for churches. Even if you don’t have a designer on staff, there are tools like Canva, Legend, and Facebook Ad tools that make creating images and videos easy for the rest of us.

4. Be Strategic

How can you use it to reinforce your ministry vision? How can you use it to create excitement or anticipation for an upcoming project or sermon series? And maybe most importantly of all, how can you leverage the content you’re already creating (i.e. – your weekly sermon) to distill and disseminate via social media throughout the week? These are all valuable questions to help your church be more strategic in its approach to social media.

5. Be Present

Social media shouldn’t be one person’s responsibility. One of the easiest ways to increase your social influence is to equip and encourage your staff to leverage their social presence for ministry.

6. Know Your People

Don’t feel like you need to be present on every social network. Instead, ask yourself, “Who is your church trying to reach? What channels are they using? How are they using it?” Then look for ways to apply some of the other social media commandments there.

7. Encourage User Generated Content

One of the best ways to maximize social media for ministry is to create a culture where church members are creating the content. Ask questions that create conversations. Share stories from people in the pew who are doing ministry. Create a Twitter hashtag for your Twitter sermon that prompts people to share.

8. Market Your Social Presence

If you want people to engage with your ministry online, printing social media icons in your bulletin can’t be the only way you market your social presence. Instead, look for other ways to promote your social channels from the platform.

9. Reinforce Relationships & Discipleship

Effective discipleship requires more than one hour on a Sunday morning. However, continuing the conversation on social media throughout the week is an incredibly effective way to lead people to deeper conversations. This might include sharing your message notes throughout the week or hosting a Facebook Live Q&A to take questions about Sunday’s sermon.

10. Develop a Social Media Policy

Defining what’s appropriate to post and how you will handle any negative situation on the front end is critical. If you’re starting from scratch, here are a few social media policy examples to get you started.

Like everything else your church does, social media is simply another tool to help people grow closer to Jesus. It’s not a silver bullet. But, when you use these commandments to guide your strategy, you’ll be surprised at how it can help you reach more people, increase engagement in your community, and lead people deeper in their commitment to Christ.

What else would you add to the list?